Yusuf Sidhum, “Jobs and positions… - are they for all Egyptians?!,” Waṭanī in Arab West Report, Week 32, Art 8, August 9, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-32/8-jobs-and-positions-are-they-all-egyptians.
The article provides a discussion on the number of Copts in different functions.
On November 10, 1991 the late Anton Sidhom wrote in this same place an article entitled "Distancing the Copts". In it he said; "the official paper published on 17/10/1991 gives the names of the new employees in the public attorney’s office. Out of the 407 names mentioned only five were Copts. That is 1.25% of the total. This is not the first decision of this type. Lately several presidential decrees were published in which the percentage of Copts fluctuated between 1 and 1.5%. Employment in banks, the public sector and the government has taken on a similar pattern. As for promotions, they seem to almost completely overlook Copts despite the fact that they are known to be devoted employees. This causes a lot of bitterness among the Copts."
Rajab al-Basil, “Maurice Sadek: I call for sanctions to be imposed on the Egyptian Government, because it is racist and persecutes Copts,” Āfāq ‘Arabīyah in Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 2, August 13 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-2/12-maurice-sadek-i-call-sanctions-be-imposed-egyptian-government-because-it-racist.
The article provides an interview with Maurice Sadek:
Frankly speaking, Christians are discriminated in Egypt. The issue of isolating them from public life has become a normal matter. For the President of the Republic is a Muslim, so is the Prime Minister and of the 32 ministers we have only two Christians. There is no Christian Minister of Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, or Justice although there are very qualified Christian cadres that could occupy such offices. We have 28 Governors who are all Muslim and we have 15 universities all their deans are Muslims. All the heads of Government Authorities heads are Muslim and most of the Deputy-Ministers are Muslims. In addition the heads of the radio and television are also Muslim and if we open the radio or television there is no Christian anchor or announcer. News is not read by a Christian announcer, so have the Christians disappeared from Egypt? Of the 700 ambassadors we have only two Christians. All employees of embassies are Muslims and this is against the constitution. Read the promotions bulletin in the newspapers, none of them are Christians. We have members of Parliament only six of them are appointed Christians. Why don’t they appoint 100 Coptic representatives so that there would be true representation. It is also possible to close the districts to Christians only so that they can reach 100 candidates for the Parliament and an equal number for the Shura Council (Consultative Council). This is the system that is used in Jordan and Palestine.
Wa’el Lofty, “Muslims and Christians in delegations to the American churches,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 34, Art 13, August 24, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-34/13-muslims-and-christians-delegations-american-churches.
“It is noticeable that the number of Evangelical churches exceeds 1000, serving half a million Evangelical Copts, meaning that every church serves 500 people. The Evangelical thinker Rafiq Habib says "If we divide the number of Muslims in Egypt by the number mosques, we will discover that the ratio is almost the same. I realize that the Evangelicals are suffering least in building churches because the nature of the doctrine allows forming small churches in homes.
Rafiq Habib is himself considered proof that there is no persecution of Evangelicals in Egypt. Although he is the son of the late head of the Evangelical church, this did not prevent him from participating in a group of his generation among the ex-members of the Muslim Brotherhood to establish Al-Wassat party.
Habib adds that the picture has differed since the middle of the 20th century. The number 25 of public personalities and rich men decreased in the church because the church moved towards the poorer classes and the middle class. These people naturally have a tendency towards the spiritual life, and some of them took a very cautious position towards [the church’s] materialistic thought. Throughout these past years, there were no public personalities in the church and not even any attempts to participate in public work. Habib thinks that this has to do with the spiritual culture of the church.
The Evangelical church consists of 16 different doctrines known as churches. There is the Presbyterian Evangelical Church, the Episcopal Church, the Closed Brotherhood Church, the Open Brotherhood Church and the Renascence of Holiness Church.”
Farrag Ismaiel, “170,000 Christians in Jordan reach high positions and enjoy their religious freedom,” Al-Muslemūn in Arab-West Report, Week 35, Art 14, August 29, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-35/14-170000-christians-jordan-reach-high-positions-and-enjoy-their-religious-freedom.
The co-existence of Islam with other religions in all ages is an example of peaceful co-existence that doesn’t violate the religious and social rights of the others. Christians and Jews were secure living in the Islamic nation. They were not forced to give up their religion. The Muslims called for the way of God with wisdom. The Islamic principle "You have your religion and I have my own" was always a proof of the greatness of this religion and its tolerance.
In the last few months, we faced a strange campaign with claims of the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world. This campaign led to a [proposed] law called the Freedom of Religious Persecution Act before the American Congress with the support of the Zionist lobby.
The leaders of the churches in the Arab countries met in Cyprus a few months ago to refute the claims of the West about Christians’ persecution in the Arab world. They said that they are receiving good treatment from the Muslims in the societies where they live.
In this report, we are opening for the first time the file of the Christians in the Arab world. We speak with senior church leaders, shedding light on the relations between Muslims and Christians in the Arab world.
The text further provides numbers of Christians in Palestinian areas and Jordan and uses traditional Muslim arguments “Going back in history, the co-existence between Muslims and Christians began in Jerusalem 15 years after the prophet’s emigration. When Omar Ibn El Khatab conquered Jerusalem, he signed the most famous peace treaty in history with Jerusalem’s patriarch. This treaty resulted in co- existence between Christians and Muslims since that time until now. The Christian sects are distributed in Palestine on a larger scale than in any other neighboring Arab countries. The holiness of this spot made the people of the three heavenly religions try to establish themselves firmly [there].”
CH (May 2012): It is obvious that the proposed Freedom of Religious Persecution Act has spurred discussions about statistics of Christians in relation to equal rights between Muslims and Christians. This article presents arguments that are very often heard in discussions with Muslims. The formulations “on a larger scale” and “firmly” established give a much too rosy picture in the light of the large emigration of Palestinian Christians.
Christina Lamb, “Egyptian police ’crucify’ and rape Christians,” Sunday Telegraph in Arab West Report, Week 43, Art 4, October 25, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-43/4-egyptian-police-crucify-and-rape-christians.
“Although Coptic Christians make up six per cent of the population of Egypt and their numbers include the former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, the government refuses to recognize them as an official minority and they have suffered persecution for years from Islamic extremists.”
Mohammad Refa’at, “Centers for the circulation of lies, if you want to know more search after a man called Maurice Sadek,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, November 2, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-44/26-centers-circulation-lies-if-you-want-know-more-search-after-man-called-maurice.
“The article calls Coptic human rights lawyer Maurice Sadek a source of lies and gives several examples.”
Maurice Sadek “also called for the return of the religious freedoms law promulgated by the Khedive Ismail in the year 1856, to satisfy the British and French, although this law dedicated 25% of the public positions and 10% of Military colleges for the Copt’s. Which means that this law affirms them being a minority, which is what is unaccepted historically by Egyptians.
Among the ideas propagated by Sadek’s center in International congregations is his demand to appoint Pope Shenouda as the republics Vice-President, appointing one of the Christian prominent figures to be Prime Minister and appointing a number of Christian governors, in addition to the post of Minister of Justice. The center also demands the dedication of 50 electoral centers for Christians to guarantee that 100 of the people’s assembly members would represent the Copt’s.”
“News story stirs readers’ astonishment, derision,” Egyptian Gazette in Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 44, Art 41, November 3, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-44/41-news-story-stirs-readers-astonishment-derision.
A Copt living in Australia was said to have paid money to Copts migrating to Australia.
Khalid Hasan, “Foreign aid and temptations in return for harming Egypt,” Akhbar Al-Hawadeth in Arab-West Report, Week 47, Art 19, November 12 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-47/19-foreign-aid-and-temptations-return-harming-egypt.
We met with the members of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) in Sohag, who had resigned from their duty objecting to the suspicious role that was played by the organization in the events of Al-Koshh. The resigning members, who have documented facts, revealed the suspicious role played by the Organization in harming Egypt, its people and its stability by planting sectarian strife and spreading rumors and lies, with the help of foreign media.
Esmat Selim, lawyer and founder of the EOHR regional branch in Sohag, said that the organization, like most other human rights organizations, receives funding from foreign bodies. Selim explains that these organizations are always looking to achieve their aims. "A few months, ago Father Christian contacted me. He is Dutch and the head of the Religious Brotherhood Society in Egypt and he lives in the St. George School in Heliopolis. Father Christian offered me to establish a branch for the society in Sohag and that there will be large funding", said Selim. (CH: this is not true and father Christian responded in a letter to the editor.)
Naser Ahmed El-Sayyed, a member of the organization, says that the organization is in cooperation with migrant Coptic groups abroad and it is tempting Copts to migrate.
“Asa’ad assured that there is no persecution against Copts in Egypt. Suggesting the Church as an alternative for a Coptic state is very dangerous,” Al-Aḥrār in Arab West Report, Week 47, Art 13, November 21, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-47/13-asaad-assured-there-no-persecution-against-copts-egypt-suggesting-church.
“An interview with Gamal Asa’ad on the role of Pope Shenouda and persecution.
Regarding the issue of minorities in Egypt, Egyptians are of one fabric and being a minority in term of numbers does not mean we are a minority. Minority means the majority is of certain ethnic group and the minority belongs to another. So, we cannot say we are persecuted minority.”
Khalid al-Shirbini, “Says former Coptic Parliamentarian Edward El-Zahabi, who was honored on the occasion of the celebration of the Prophet’s Day: ‘My study of Islam corrected a number of misconceptions I held about Islam. I support the implementation of the Sharia,’” Al-Liwā’ al-‘Arabī in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 11, January 20, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-3/11-says-former-coptic-parliamentarian-edward-el-zahabi-who-was-honored-occasion.
Islam urges the adoption of the golden rule: "They are entitled to the same rights we enjoy and they are subject to the same obligations as we are."
“The second premise is the freedom of belief. The Holy Qur’an is full of verses that demonstrate this principle. For example, "there is no compulsion in religion". Thus, it is not permitted in Islam for a Muslim to punish [people because they are] non-Muslims even if the latter were non-believers.”
“There are some Coptic elements working abroad. Unfortunately, some of these elements migrated after failing to succeed here. They, as a result, gradually lose their identification with the country. That may explain their bitter attack on Egypt.”
“The majority of Copts living abroad understands the reality of national unity between Muslims and Christians in Egypt. A minority, which doesn’t represent the Copts of migration, is leading the attack by some and I believe some foreign agencies are generously sponsoring them. There is no one other than the Zionist lobby whose goals are to deprive Egypt of its pioneering role in the region and to set in action religious hatred in Egypt.”
Question: What is your evidence of the Zionist involvement?
El-Zahabi: “The evidence is provided by the minority of Copts who promote their poisonous ideas on whole pages in the largest American news media. These advertisements are very expensive and their costs cannot be paid by this minority. In addition to that is the Jewish domination of the press, political, economical and cultural life in the United States. Also, we have not heard of such complaints from other Copts in other countries, e.g., Canada and Australia.”
Question: What do you say of the organizations that organize conferences under foreign sponsorship?
El-Zahabi: “In May 1994, a strong opposition emerged against the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies for organizing a conference under the theme "Universal Declaration of Minority rights in the Arab World and the Middle East". This was because the Center considered Copts to be in the same situation as Kurds in Iraq, Berbers in Morocco, Druze in Israel and Armenians in Lebanon. Under pressure of the opposition to that group, the Center was forced to hold the Conference in Cyprus.”
Abd’ Allah Kamal, “Egypt is more in need of hospitals and schools than churches and mosques,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 4, Article 7, January 25, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-4/7-egypt-more-need-hospitals-and-schools-churches-and-mosques.
“The statistical data contain the names of 39 churches covered by the restoration decisions. These include 17 Orthodox, 17 Evangelical and 3 Catholic churches, respectively, in addition to two churches affiliated to two Coptic associations.”
“[…] the month of November witnessed an intense issuance of restoration decisions. The number of decisions issued in this month amounted to 15. This is followed by the month of December (seven restoration decisions), July (five decisions), followed by the months of May, June, August, September, and October (one decision each). One decision was made in February. In the months of January, April, and March no decision were made.”
“Sadfa district came at the top of the list of restoration decisions, gaining a number of 10 restoration decisions, followed by Assiut (6 decisions), Manfalout and Abu Tig districts (5 decisions each), El-Gousi and Dairout (3 decisions each), El-Bedrawi, Abanub and Sahel Abu Selim (2 decisions each) and, finally, El-Qenahim (one decision).”
“The analysis of the table indicates the building of six churches in El-Minia, four in Assiut, three in Beni Suef and El-Bahira each, two in each of the governorates of Gharbiya, Port Said and Sohaq, and one in each of Cairo, Giza and Qena. The table shows also the building of three, twelve and ten Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox churches, respectively.”
“The report adds: "Looking back at the 1986 population census, we find that there was one church for every 17 thousand Christians, as opposed to a mosque for every one thousand Muslims.”
Wai’el Lutfi, “Illegitimate children are legal,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 13, February 1, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-5/13-illegitimate-children-are-legal.
“After the passage of more than 20 years since the first attempt at issuing a unified Personal Status Law binding all Christian denominations, an agreement has finally been reached in the last couple of days.
The basis for judgment will indeed be the marriage contract itself. Mamduh Nakhla, a lawyer, comments on the new law that though the new bill of law has narrowed the possibilities of divorce, it will complicate the problem of second-time marriage, a problem suffered by 44,000 Copts who, in accordance with the provisions of the former law, have obtained divorces and for whom the Church refuses the license to remarry except for the reason of adultery only.
Article 24 relates to the marriage of a Christian person to a non-Christian or a believer of unrecognized Christian denomination. This article has been the source of a number of controversies.”
CH (May 2012): Difficulties in obtaining a permit for a second marriage can make Christians convert to Islam or, if they have a chance to do so, migrate.
Maurice Sadiq, “‘When I know I have equal opportunities, I will love this country.’ Coptic campaigner Maurice Sadek,” Cairo Times in Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 16, February 4-17, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-6/16-when-i-know-i-have-equal-opportunities-i-will-love-country-coptic-campaigner. (The recent Arab Strategic Report produced by the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.)
The author is highly critical of this Coptic human rights activist:
Maurice Sadek’s strategy is to batter you with statistics so you’re left in no doubt. The government is overwhelmingly dominated by Muslims; of 32 ministers only two are Copts, and they’re "in marginal ministries," he says (though that includes the Minister of the Economy). "In the last 20 years, no defense, interior, justice or foreign minister has been Christian." All 28 governors are Muslims, as are most figures in the media, education and agriculture. Of 700 ambassadors, only three are Christian. There are only six Coptic members of parliament, and all of them had to be nominated by the president. The Qur’an is broadcast 24 hours a day, and 25 percent of television programs are "Islamic" -- the Minister of Information refuses to broadcast Sunday services. The army is Muslim-dominated, and Al Azhar University will only accept Muslims, because it’s a "racist university." All 15 universities in the country have Muslims for principals, and the national press is essentially the same. All of this because "religion is a basic element in the appointment process," he says. "This state is Islamized, and all of it is against the Egyptian constitution, which considers all Egyptians equal in rights and duties."
Welcome to the world of Maurice Sadek, the man who sees a conspiracy to marginalize the role of Egypt’s Copts -- at 15 million, 25 percent of the population, he alleges -- in all spheres of life. It’s not because of the state’s sensitivity to the religious sentiments of the Muslim majority -- Sadek doesn’t buy that argument.
That there are only three Christian ambassadors is simply not true. The recent Arab Strategic Report produced by the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies makes a strong case refuting the argument that Copts are distanced from public life. It cites one study that found that the percentage of Copts involved in companies established between 1973 and 1995 was 22.5 percent. Today, Copts own 20 percent of contracting firms, 50 percent of consultancies, 60 percent of Egypt’s pharmacies and 45 percent of private clinics. Copts, then, clearly have a share in the nation’s economic life above that which their numbers would suggest. "Using the numerical size of any social group, and using that as the measure to judge its presence in one sphere or another," the report says, "is an expression of a narrow sectarian mentality which has nothing at all to do with modernization and creating a civil society."
MN (May 2012): It has to be stressed that Sadiq and Sadek are the same person. This is the problem with the lack of consistency to spell names in the database as mentioned introductory.
Nabil Louqa Bebawi, “A question that needs an answer,” Al-Akhbār in Arab-West Report, Week 15, Art 13, April 11, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-15/13-question-needs-answer.
“The migration of Egyptian Copts to the US and other countries in Europe and Australia, in search of higher incomes or for other reasons that they encountered before the Mubarak era, increased during the sixties.” No further information about emigration. The article speaks about improvements the author wishes to see for Copts in Egypt.
Majdi Khalil, “Dr. Fawzy Stefanos to Al-Watani: Resolution of Coptic concerns can come about through dialogue, not through silence,” Watani in Arab-West Report, Week 16, Art 18, April 18, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-16/18-dr-fawzy-stefanos-al-watani-resolution-coptic-concerns-can-come-about-through.
Dr. Stefanos is a Coptic surgeon living in the US. About Copts emigrating from Egypt to the US he says, “The experience of immigration can be advantageous. However, it, requires arrangements and certain certificates, in addition to a command of foreign languages. An individual planning to immigrate should have a clear objective in mind. It is not acceptable to throw aside one’s certificate to work as a taxi driver or in a restaurant. We want youth that will form a brilliant image of Egypt abroad.”
CH (May 2012): This is an indication that both groups of Coptic emigrants exist. Some being well educated and increasing their opportunities to advance after emigration while others are so desperate to emigrate that they are willing to do this almost at any cost.
‘Atif Hilmi, “The devil of the fitna ta’ifiya [sectarian strife],” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 24, Art 13, June 12-18, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-24/13-devil-fitna-taifiya-sectarian-strife.
“Mr. Maurice Sadek, who runs a center called the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights and National Unity claims that the church is behind the stories about young Coptic girls. He demands foreign interference. He compares Copts to the colored Americans. He demands [that] half of the seats in parliament and a quarter of the seats in the cabinet [go to the Copts].